Key readings on employment and labor markets in 2023

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What were some of the most interesting readings in 2023 on employment and labor markets? In this article you will find a list of curated resources on global workforce trends, labor market oriented education, Active Labor Market Policies, MSME development, JobTech, Artificial Intelligence and more…

By Kevin Hempel | January 2024

Staying up to date with current research and practice can be challenging, especially for busy policymakers and practitioners focused on keeping day-to-day operations afloat. Therefore, this article highlights a list of resources published in 2023 that can be useful for colleagues working on employment and labor market related topics. (feel free to also check out our reading list for 2022)

While the list covers a range of sub-topics, the number of readings under each sub-topic is limited to ensure that the list remains digestible. Hence, this list is not intended to be comprehensive; it is just my take on some essential readings I have come across over the course of the year.

I hope you will find it useful.

Global Workforce Developments

Future of Jobs Report (World Economic Forum) | The WEF’s flagship study exploring how jobs and skills are expected to evolve over the next five years.

State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report (Gallup) | Presents findings from the largest global survey of employees, looking at topics such as employee engagement, turnover, stress and more.

The Global Skills Marketplace – Using Remote Work to Solve the Talent Crisis (Lightcast) | A global look at developments in remote work, including interesting relationships between countries and regions regarding where remote workers live vs. where they work.

Women @ Work 2023: A global outlook (Deloitte) | Global insights on women’s experience in the workplace, including about mental health, flexible work, and microaggressions.


Labor Market Oriented Education & TVET

Building Better Formal TVET Systems: Principles and Practice in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (World Bank, ILO and UNESCO) | An in-depth analysis of the potential and challenges of TVET systems in LMICs, as well as areas for action.

Delivering on the Degree: The College-to-Jobs Playbook (Harvard University) | Evidence review on different types of interventions to improve the transition from higher education to the workforce.

Short courses, micro-credentials, and flexible learning pathways: A blueprint for policy development and action (Unesco) | A summary of global trends and developments on the opportunities and challenges in rolling out microcredentials, with examples from around the world.


Active Labor Market Policies

Public employment services and active labour market policies for transitions: Responses to mega trends and crises (ILO) | An in-depth examination of trends and innovations in the design and delivery of employment intermediation services and active labour market policies, with a particular focus on responding to crises and facilitating recovery.

Job Training and Job Search Assistance Policies in Developing Countries (World Bank) | Building on existing empirical evidence, the report provides a critical discussion about whether, when, and how developing country governments should undertake job training and job search assistance policies.

Do Public Works Programs Have Sustained Impacts? A Review of Experimental Studies from LMICs (World Bank) | An evidence review on the impacts of public works programs on participants, confirming prior evidence that while these programs can increase employment and earnings during the program, the effects typically fade in the medium run.

Raising the bar: Designing and implementing innovative contracted-out employment services in OECD countries (OECD) | As more countries move to combining the in-house provision of public employment services with additional service provision through external partners, this report highlights some of the key considerations in the design and implementation of contracted-out employment services and provides examples from OECD countries.


Entrepreneurship & MSME development

Training Entrepreneurs (VoxDev) | The latest version of a dynamic literature review on what works and what doesn’t on entrepreneurship training.

Sustain Impact: Donor practices to grow enterprise support organizations (Snowmelt & Argidius Foundation) | Interesting report on how donor agencies can more effectively engage with Enterprise Support Organizations to help them grow and provide effective services in a sustained manner.

Evidence and best practice in entrepreneurship ecosystem development (ILO) | The study maps out and analyses the global landscape of entrepreneurial ecosystems approaches implemented by different actors in the Global South.


JobTech & Platform economy

Working Without Borders: The Promise and Peril of Online Gig Work (World Bank) | A comprehensive analysis of online gig work globally, looking at questions such as the number of workers engaged in online gig work, inclusiveness, the role of gig work platforms, the types of firms demanding gig workers, social protection, and more.

Empowerment or Exploitation: Global Perspectives on Women’s Work in the Platform Economy (JustJobs Network) | A collection of essays on the opportunities and challenges that digital platforms pose for women’s work.

Landscape scans of JobTech platforms in Africa (JobTech Alliance) | A collection of studies delving into the current state of different types of JobTech platforms (e.g., platforms for offline work, digitally delivered work, services for microenterprises, etc.), including interesting insights on underlying business models.

Fairwork Cloudwork Ratings 2023. Work in the Planetary Labour Market (Fairwork) | Assessment of working conditions across major digital labour platforms in terms of fair pay, conditions, contracts, management, and representation. Fairwork also has many country-level studies on its website.


Artificial Intelligence & Jobs

The economic potential of generative AI: The next productivity frontier (McKinsey) | The study looks at the impact of generative AI on productivity, different industries, and business functions.

Preparing the Workforce for Generative AI (LinkedIn) | Based on LinkedIn data, the report provides an overview of the industries, occupations and worker profiles most impacted by AI.

Jobs of Tomorrow: Large Language Models and Jobs (World Economic Forum) | The paper analyses the potential exposure of different tasks and occupations to LLM adoption, classifying them along high or low potential for automation and augmentation.



The digital transformation of Public Employment Services Across Latin America and the Caribbean (Interamerican Development Bank) | The report provides a framework on how to approach digitalization in public employment services (e.g., in terms of strategy, back office, frontline services, etc.) and what PES in the region are doing across the various dimensions.

Virtual and XR Laboratories for Workforce Development (World Bank) | A practical overview on the potential use of virtual and extended reality in skills development, including case studies and a list of service providers.

Observatory on Digital technologies in Career guidance for Youth (OECD) | A growing, open-access repository on the use of digital technologies in career education and guidance by primary and secondary schools.


Green Economy

The Green Gender Gap (LinkedIn) | While green skills are increasingly sought-after in the labour market, this report sheds light on the fact that women are less likely to have green skills than men.  

PES support to greening of the labour market (European Commission) | A stocktaking of approaches and interventions across Europe on how Public Employment Services can support transitions towards a green economy and labour market.

Decent Work in the Circular Economy: An overview of the existing evidence base (Circle Economy, ILO & S4YE) | Analysis of different dimensions of the circular economy, including job creation, informality, skills development, working conditions and the representation of vulnerable groups incl. women.


Human Resources Management

Skills-First: Reimagining the Labor Market and Breaking Down Barriers (LinkedIn) | As part of a broader trend towards skills-first hiring, this report makes the case for placing greater emphasis on skills and learning when making hiring decisions as opposed to solely relying on degrees or job titles.

Reskilling in the Age of AI (Harvard Business Review) | Article summarizing lessons learned from large reskilling programs and what companies should think about to keep up with rapidly evolving skills needs.

Delivering Gender Equality: A Best Practices Framework for Male-Dominated Industries (USAID) | Looking at the entire employee lifecycle (talent outreach, recruiting, training, retention, etc.), this report provides global best practices and practical resources to identify gaps, define objectives, and establish a road map for integrating gender equity in the workplace.


Applying Behavioral Science

Promoting Student Engagement: A landscape analysis of promising behaviorally informed strategies (ideas42) | A review of the effectiveness of different strategies to promote student’s engagement in the classroom and on campus, such as enhancing belonging, employing active teaching methods, or sending nudge communications.

How to improve workplace equity: Evidence-based actions for employers (Employment and Social Develoment Canada) | A practical guide that summarizes what works (and what doesn’t) to improve workplace outcomes for various disadvantaged groups, including women, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and people of colour.

Improving progression opportunities for women in low-paid and low-skill jobs (Behavioural Insights Team) | A collection of reports summarizing the barriers faced by low-paid women to progression in the UK, France, Spain, and South Africa, alongside solutions that employers and public services can implement to overcome these challenges.


What were your favorite readings on employment and labor markets in 2023? I would love to hear from you via email.

About the author:

Kevin Hempel is the Founder and Managing Director of Prospera Consulting, a boutique consulting firm working towards stronger policies and programs to facilitate the labor market integration of disadvantaged groups.